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Macro Shifts in Civil War: Government Expansion, Rebel Deployment, and Civilian Displacement in the Vietnam War

November 16, 2018 @ 12:00 am

Macro Shifts in Civil War: Government Expansion, Rebel Deployment, and Civilian Displacement in the Vietnam War

DateNovember 15, 2013

Time7:00am to 8:30am

Location
11377 Bunche Hall

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How a civil war unfolds depends on the key questions of whether rebels can find permanent sanctuary, where the government can maintain authority, and where civilians choose to live. How are these three macro factors related, and how can we rigorously track them over time? I investigate the interaction and trend of these forces in an empirically important and contentious case of counterinsurgency in the later part of the Vietnam War (1966-1972). I introduce a variety of novel measures developed from wartime intelligence estimates, a large scale panel survey that rates conditions across communities, and geospatial measures of human activity. Rather than a static quagmire, trends in rebel base locations, government reach into the countryside, and population movements all point to a highly dynamic and shifting strategic situation. Despite U.S. withdrawal, the evidence points toward a country-wide consolidation of government power, consistent with government victory. The results provide insight into the contemporary optimism about Vietnamization of the war and the strategic necessity rebel groups face to escalate an irregular conflict to a conventional conflict.

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